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Kurdish women's rights leader detained as Turkey accused of ‘waging war on women’

TURKEY was accused of waging “war against women” after Free Women’s Movement (TJA) co-chair Ayse Gokkan was arrested in a police raid today in the largely Kurdish city of Diyarbakir.

The reasons for Ms Gokkan’s detention were unclear, but media reports suggested that it was in connection with investigations opened by the Mardin prosecutor’s office.

The former mayor of Nusaybin was also held earlier this year as part of wider Turkish state attacks on the Kurdish women’s movement, in which scores of organisations were shut down and 54 arrests made.

Turkey has targeted high-profile women and their political organisations as it seeks to weaken resistance to the misogynistic policies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) , including a law granting amnesty to rapists and paedophiles if they marry their victims.

In July, Rojbin Cetin, a TJA activist and Peoples Democratic Party (HDP) supporter, was subjected to horrific torture during an interrogation in her own home. She was mauled by dogs in a three-and-a-half-hour ordeal.

Beyond Turkey’s borders, the same month saw three Kurdish women killed in a Turkish drone attack in the Syrian city of Kobane.

Those resisting femicide in Turkey have also been targeted by the state, with protests attacked by police and organisers detained.

The country has been rocked by a series of murders and rapes of women, with the perpetrators often going unpunished.

According to the We Will Stop Femicide Platform, at least 285 women have been murdered in Turkey this year, but the real figure is believed to be much higher since many cases go unreported.

It is estimated that 3,000 women have been killed since the AKP came to power in 2002.

To make matters worse, the Turkish state is threatening to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention, which obliges signatories to tackle gender-based crime, provide protection and services for women and ensure that perpetrators are prosecuted.

Mesopotamia Women Journalists Platform spokeswoman Ayse Guney, who was herself detained in July, told the Morning Star that “all democratic forces” should support the women’s struggle in Turkey.

“Ayse Gokkan is the spokesperson for the Free Women’s Movement, an activist who fights for women's rights. The reason  she was detained … is the war waged by the current government against women,” she said.

“All the rights and gains of women are usurped by the AKP government and women are being pushed out of the public sphere. Women are subjected to violence, raped and killed.

“The government, which does nothing for them, attacks women who struggle and wants to frighten them by arresting them,” Ms Guney continued.

“Kurdish women are never afraid of being arrested and will continue to resist. All democratic forces should embrace this struggle and increase women’s solidarity.”

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